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How do I make the most of my radio interview?

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Radio interviews, whether live or pre-recorded, are an extremely valuable tool when getting your message across to the public. Sure, it might not feel quite as exciting as a TV interview, but it can be equally fruitful. We’ve seen this with many of our clients, first-hand.

Like with any interview, authenticity is important. The conversation should come across as spontaneous and free flowing. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few do’s and don’ts to follow…

Here are a few of our top tips to consider – before, during and after that all important call.

Before the radio interview:

Prepare

This might seem an obvious one, but radio interviews can sometimes be a very unplanned event – especially when they tie in with a current news hook. So, whether you have 48 hours or 30 mins, we suggest doing all the preparation you can beforehand.

Start with doing your background research on the station and the journalist. If you haven’t already, listen to a few of their shows and take time to consider the topic you’ll be speaking about. Likelihood is you’re already an expert on it, but a little refresher can’t hurt.

And if you don’t think it will distract you too much, write down three key messages you want to get across on an A4 sheet of paper that you can have in front of you. You can also jot down a few stats but don’t go overboard! The worst thing to hear is rustling paper and scripted answers…

Consider your environment

With many people WFH-ing at the moment, the most distracting thing for an interviewee would probably be kids, pets, perhaps a partner who doesn’t realise you’re on the phone or an unexpected delivery at the door. All lovely things, but potentially disruptive.

If you do have a home office, this would be the perfect place to have the interview. If not, I’ve often found that cordoning off a room and shutting the door does the job for the short amount of time a radio interview often needs!

Once we get back into offices and co-working spaces, the same effect can be achieved through booking a meeting room. Don’t take the interview anywhere there is going to be background noise – this doesn’t make for good audio quality!

During the radio interview:

The three E’s

Facial expressions are such a crucial part of how we humans communicate. But that’s out of the window with radio interviews, so how do we compensate for their absence?

The answer? The three E’s – energy, enthusiasm, empathy.

A voice that is all the same pitch, with lengthy sentences that don’t always address the question asked, is enough to make any listener switch stations. Instead, channel one or more of the three E’s – for example, if discussing a business win, think enthusiasm, or if raising awareness of a local fundraising appeal, think empathy.

Mix the high with the low, the long with the short. If you feel like you’re getting too relaxed or wary of a question coming up that you’re not keen on answering, then stand instead of sit. This way you’re quite literally, and figuratively, on your toes!

When taking part in a live interview, you’ll most likely be called and brought into a ‘waiting room’ before being welcomed on-air. A pre-recorded interview, on the other hand, is an off-air conversation that the journalist then goes away, edits, and runs at a time that suits the station’s schedule. Our founder, Helen, said: “I’ve often found that clients hold the conversation better when the interview is live so – even if it is pre-recorded – be sure to give it the same gusto you would as if every word was being broadcasted there and then.”

What about the CTA?

You’ve done a brilliant interview, got your three key messages across and even had a bit of banter with the presenter. Great job! But don’t stop there.

Consider your end goal – in an ideal world, what do you want listeners to go away and think about or do? For example, POhWER, a large advocacy charity we work with, often uses its call-to-actions as a rally cry to change governmental policies or urge the public to look closer at their own circumstances.

Often, the presenter will set you up for a question where you can refer to your call-to-action. If not, and you feel the conversation wrapping up, it should be fairly easy to slip in.

After the radio interview:

Follow through

You’ve hung up the phone or FaceTime call and made yourself a cup of tea – lovely. Now, remember to maximise on the time you spent preparing and doing the interview.

First, send the journalist a note if you have their email. This doesn’t have to be anything more than a thank you, but the presenter will appreciate it and you never know when you might want to call on that nice working relationship again.

Lastly, get social. A post as short and simple as a ‘Just joined XX for a great conversation about XX on Radio XX – did you tune in? Would love to hear your thoughts on the topic too!’ is perfect. For example, here’s one of our clients doing just that:

Ultimately, radio interviews can be a tough nut to crack. Waiting for the phone to ring, not seeing the interviewer face-to-face and the possibility of speaking live all adds to how daunting it can feel. But, with the right mentality and a few of our top tips, we’re sure you’ll be off to a flying start.

And remember, if you have a PR agency’s support, you can rely on them to ensure all of the above tips are followed and the opportunity is as successful as it could have been.

To hear more about our media training services, click here, or to find out how High-Rise can work with you, please get in touch with our Managing Director, Helen Furnivall, on [email protected] or 07921 021326.

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